Schwarzer Not Complacent Despite Differences
Playing at arguably one of the most famous grounds in world football one week, to one of the most obscure and smallest international grounds the next. That is the reality that faces Qantas Socceroo goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, as he and the rest of his Australian teammates prepare for two of their most important games in recent years.
Playing at arguably one of the most famous grounds in world football one week, to one of the most obscure and smallest international grounds the next. That is the reality that faces Qantas Socceroo goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer (pictured right), as he and the rest of his Australian teammates prepare for two of their most important games in recent years. Last week Schwarzer was gracing Old Trafford, home to Manchester United, in front of over 67,000 fans and playing a blinder to boot, which only increased the speculation that he might be on his way there permanently in January. From there he has flown to Brisbane and later today he and the rest of the squad will fly to Honiara to play at the little known Lawson Tama Stadium on Saturday. Asked how he felt going from Old Trafford one week to Honiara the next, Schwarzer could see the funny side of it, although that was meant as no disrespect to the opposition he will face in two days time. “We-ll its probably about 10 and a half thousand miles difference,” he said jokingly. “Seriously, obviously it-s a massive difference. The opposition we will be playing against will be no Man United, but they are going to be very determined and a very difficult team to play against without a doubt. “The conditions are obviously going to be quite severe for us; it-s going to be very, very hot ; its playing near the middle of the day and they-re going to make it as uncomfortable as possible for us, which is only natural. “But we know we have a job at hand and we-ve got to go out there and get half the job done and get the result we need and then finish it off on Tuesday (in Sydney).” Schwarzer was quick to downplay any walkover by the Australians especially in Honiara where they can expect to play in temperatures somewhere in the vicinity of 40 degrees, although he is confident they will still get the result they need. “Obviously it-s going to be a big part of the match,” when asked about the heat and humidity factor for the first game. “They are going to be acclimatized; they are going to be used to the type of weather we are playing in and they have been together for a month according to the media releases, so they are going to be very well organized and very well prepared as far as there campaign goes. “So its going to be difficult for us but I-m sure the experience and quality of players that we have, I-m sure we-ll come out on top.” Schwarzer, who is favourite to get the captaincy in the absence of Craig Moore, also believes there will be no complacency by any of players, because of what is at stake with victory over the Solomons. “It-s vitally important for us to win the games and qualify (for Confederations Cup). It goes without saying. “The Confederations Cup is the only major tournament, other than the World Cup, that we can qualify for and play against world class opposition. It goes without saying that these two games are of massive importance to us and we all want to qualify, because it-s a massive tournament to be involved in as well. “The last Confederations Cup we were involved in was in 2001 and it was a fantastic experience. We had a great time there and had some fantastic success as well, beating France, beating Brazil and Mexico as well along the way. “That-s what it is all about, being able to go on a big stage and playing against very good opposition and causing upsets, because a lot of people do underestimate us when we do go to these games and that-s how we like it and then we prove people wrong.” The likeable Middlesbrough custodian was also quick to refute a suggestion from a journalist that coach Frank Farina needn-t have picked his full strength side for the two matches. “As far as I am concerned I want to play as many games as I can for Australia and it doesn-t matter who we are playing against as long as I get the opportunity to play. “It-s important that we play as many times as possible,” he said in reference to playing the strongest squad. “You can-t underestimate playing against the Solomon Islands, they are going to be a difficult opponent. You have still got to go out there for 90 minutes and do the job, in the first game and then in the second game. “You always run the risk that if you don-t pick your strongest possible side and things don-t come off, its going to be a massive backlash, so I think it-s the most sensible thing to do.” As for his own form and the suggestions of a possible move to Manchester United, Schwarzer preferred not to look to far ahead, but did say it was impossible to not get caught up in it. “The rumours are flattering and if they are true, its even more flattering. It obviously shows, from my point of view, that I am obviously doing something right if people are trying to link me to a club as big as Manchester United. “I am reasonably happy, although there is always room for improvement, but things have gone reasonably well for me and that is what you aim for. You aim to have a bit of consistency and to play well and for me obviously it-s vitally important for me because of my contractual situation I-m in at the moment.” Schwarzer also praised his Middlesbrough and Qantas Socceroo teammate Mark Viduka, who will miss the two games because of a nagging back and hip injury. “He-s a fantastic player,” when asked what it is like having him at the club. “It goes without saying that his record in the Premier League is very good and he has been a great asset to us already, even though he has struggled over the last couple of weeks with injury. He-s still been able to score goals, so to be able to do that even though not 100% fit, has shown the type of quality he has. “He-s a great guy and all the players at the club get on very, very well with him and are very surprised at what a nice guy he is, given the negative publicity and image surrounding him from his time at Leeds.”